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Book Review: The Good Occupation

December 8th, 2016
good-occupation

For the thousands of US and Allied troops who were ordered to remain behind and help rebuilt countries the Allies had just defeated, their war was extended and altered. A new book dissects the on-the-ground realities attending the aftermath of conquest.

Book Review: The Man with the Poison Gun

December 5th, 2016
the-man-with-the-poison-gun

The gripping true story of celebrated KGB assassin – and defector.

From the Archives: Chairman of the Board

December 1st, 2016
bpimlottthequeen

Lodestar or mirror? Passé or ne plus ultra? Elizabeth II has presided with consistency over an inconsistent age. And what have we learned of her?

Book Review: Brothers at Arms

November 29th, 2016
brothers-at-arms-cover

An invigorating new history looks at the American Revolution from a wide-angle international view

Book Review: The First Victory

November 24th, 2016
the-first-victory

The tough and bitter East Africa campaign of 1941 receives a comprehensive new history.

Book Review: The Vanquished

November 21st, 2016
vanquished

A thought-provoking new history shines a spotlight on the long and brutal aftermath of the First World War

Book Review: Fifty English Steeples

November 15th, 2016
steep

That familiar glory of medieval English architecture -the church spire – is the subject of a stunning new book.

Book Review: Egyptomania

November 14th, 2016
egyptomania-cover

A new book chronicles the world’s enduring fascination with Ancient Egypt

His Majesty, the Not Excessively Cowardly

November 1st, 2016
His Majesty, the Not Excessively Cowardly

He’s forever linked in history with his punning nickname, but a new biography shows there was more to Æthelred than being “Unready”

From the Archives: A Hostage Worth Ransoming

November 1st, 2016
From the Archives: A Hostage Worth Ransoming

Who’s at fault for our disastrous politics — both parties? Not a chance, say Washington insiders Ornstein and Mann. Our resident politico fisks their analysis.

Book Review: Britain’s War, 1937-1941: Into Battle

October 7th, 2016
britains-war

A lively new history of the years England fought alone against the might of Nazi Germany

Book Review: Northmen

October 3rd, 2016
norhtmen

A gripping new history tells the broader story of the Viking Era

A Boy Who Would Be King

October 1st, 2016
A Boy Who Would Be King

How did Donald Trump, a vacuous, bigoted sociopath, get this close to the White House? He did it by being himself.

Love In Every Stitch

October 1st, 2016
Love In Every Stitch

A fascinating book explores the relationship between necessity and love in military knitting across the ages.

No Further Arrests Have Been Made

October 1st, 2016
No Further Arrests Have Been Made

The serial killer who stalked the streets of London in 1888 and became immortal under the name Jack the Ripper is the subject of a sumptuous new collection of fact and fiction.

Bodies in Trouble

October 1st, 2016
Bodies in Trouble

A new novel about a notorious Viennese clinic aims to do justice to the lives of those the Nazis declared were utterly without value.

Book Review: Lusitania – The Cultural History of a Catastrophe

September 22nd, 2016
lusitania-cover

Just over a century ago, the luxury liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat with great loss of life, a disaster that, as a new book explains, re-shaped the world.

Book Review: Selling Hitler

September 15th, 2016
selling-hitler

A brilliant new study anatomizes the mechanisms of Nazi propaganda

Book Review: Deepwater Horizon

September 13th, 2016
deepwater-horizon

The explosion, fire, sinking, and oil spill of the Deepwater Horizon back in 2010 gets a definitive scholarly analysis.

More sayable than you think

September 1st, 2016
More sayable than you think

Carolin Emcke, a German social critic, continues the debate: does the holocaust demand silence? Andrew Brower Latz reviews.

Book Review: August 1914

August 29th, 2016
august 1914

Before the famous epic battles of the First World War, there were lesser-known but equally ferocious clashes that are often lost in the larger narrative. A short, powerful book seeks to redress that imbalance.

Book Review: Marked for Death

August 10th, 2016
marked for death

A gritty and gripping new history tells the story of the dawn of aerial warfare.

Book Review: The Story of Egypt

August 3rd, 2016
Book Review: The Story of Egypt

A new book tells the history of ancient Egypt, from the mists of pre-history to the familiar tale of Cleopatra

Looking Back: Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, and Robert Frank in New York City

August 1st, 2016
Looking Back:  Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, and Robert Frank in New York City

Diane Arbus’s photographs are weird. Their subjects are weird. She herself was weird. A new exhibit takes us back to the origins of that strangeness –and asks what it says to us now.

Patricide Deferred

August 1st, 2016
Patricide Deferred

Stuart Jeffries has written the first truly accessible account of the Frankfurt School. Robert Minto reviews.

Book Review: Legible Religion

July 16th, 2016
l religion

How do you manage to have religion without scripture? As a fascinating new book demonstrates, inn this as in so many other seemingly impossible paradoxes, the ancient Romans found a way.

Book Review: Hitler’s Compromises

July 11th, 2016
hitler’s compromises

A brilliant new book explores the alternatives to brute force the Nazi regime often employed to get its way

Book Review: Hitler’s Soldiers

July 6th, 2016
hitler’s soldiers

A big new history of the German Army during World War II takes a complex and multifaceted look at the men who fought for the Reich

Book Review: Russia’s Path Toward Enlightenment

July 1st, 2016
russia’s path

Long before Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, Russian thinkers and writers were haltingly, passionately fashioning their own peculiar brand of Enlightment

The Ground Beneath Their Feet

July 1st, 2016
The Ground Beneath Their Feet

The promise and the limits of the Arab Spring receive some well-written – and necessarily sobering – reporting in Robert Worth’s A Rage for Order. Greg Waldmann reviews.

Out of Some Bygone Era

July 1st, 2016
Out of Some Bygone Era

Master stylist Donald Ray Pollock returns in a violent, beautifullly-written novel about three brothers on a murderous rampage. Aaron Botwick reviews The Heavenly Table

Book Review: Toward Democracy

June 22nd, 2016
toward dem

The long and constantly-unfinished process of democracy is given a sprawling examination in James Kloppenberg’s new book.

Book Review: MacArthur at War

June 13th, 2016
macarthur at war

The mercurial, often infuriating Pacific Theater commander Douglas MacArthur is the subject of Walter Borneman’s terrific new book

Book Review: The Bitter Taste of Victory

June 10th, 2016
the bitter taste of victory

Lara Feigel’s new book delves into the landscape of the apocalypse: Germany in the immediate wake of Allied victory.

Book Review: Anatomy of Malice

June 5th, 2016
anatomy of malice

A gripping new book looks at a quartet of the worst Nazi war criminals to stand trial.

Kindling the Mob

June 1st, 2016
Kindling the Mob

A new biography tells the fascinating story of anarchist poet Lola Ridge, long overlooked by a critical culture that considered politics antithetical to literature. Laura Tanenbaum reviews.

Let’s All Meet at the Mahalalel Mall

June 1st, 2016
Let’s All Meet at the Mahalalel Mall

A thorough and even-handed new book gives readers a tour of the “Creation Museum” in Kentucky – and warns not to dismiss its dangers too readily.

The Smooth Handle

June 1st, 2016
The Smooth Handle

Did Thomas Jefferson love his slave, the mother of his children Sally Hemings? A new novel asks the question factually and counterfactually, and Kenyon Gradert sums up the results.

Why Don’t You Both Shut Up?

June 1st, 2016
Why Don’t You Both Shut Up?

In the United States in the last few decades, issues of free speech have drifted closer and closer to the heart of American life. A new book analyzes a right too many Americans take for granted.

Book Review: The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

May 11th, 2016
RNS-HITCHENS-QANDA a

A provocative new book sets out to study the faith of one of the country’s most famous atheists

Book Review: The End of Karma

May 8th, 2016
the end of karma

A clear-eyed look at the disaffected youth of India

Book Review: Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich

May 6th, 2016
karl d

A new book looks at the little-known figure of Hitler’s chosen successor

Book Review: Prisoners of Hope

May 4th, 2016
prisoners of hope

A generation ago, President Johnson enacted a stunning array of social legislation, the full audacity of which has often been overshadowed by the other aspects of LBJ’s presidency. A new book shines a light on the Great Society.

Book Review: The First Nazi

May 3rd, 2016
first nazi cover

How much of the evil of Adolf Hitler can be traced to an infamous general of the First World War?

Book Review: Valiant Ambition

May 1st, 2016
valiant ambition

The infamous treachery of Benedict Arnold gets a vigorous and richly detailed new retelling by the bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea.

Second Glance: The Secret of Prometheus

May 1st, 2016
Second Glance: The Secret of Prometheus

The oldest texts can seem familiar, but they repay attention with strangeness. Robert Minto delves into the religious origins and unresolved mysteries of Prometheus Bound.

A Period of Most Powerful Transition

May 1st, 2016
A Period of Most Powerful Transition

In his world-ranging new popular history Heyday, Ben Wilson looks at the Great Exhibition of 1851 as a focal point of the 19th-century grand dream of commerce and culture. Zach Rabiroff reviews.

Change the Way They Live

May 1st, 2016
Change the Way They Live

As Andrew Bacevich relates in his important new book, US involvement in the Middle East has been characterized by confusion, mistakes, and blundering military force. Greg Waldmann reviews America’s War for the Greater Middle East.

‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’

May 1st, 2016
‘Yes, Yes, Yes!’

To be immortalized by Shakespeare is often also to be caricatured by him; a sumptuous new biography of King Henry IV admirably brings its royal subject out of the Bard’s shadow.

From Some Mountain Summit High in the Air: Lord Acton and History

May 1st, 2016
From Some Mountain Summit High in the Air: Lord Acton and History

History remembers him as the author of the famous dictum about power corrupting, but Lord Acton led an intense and fascinating life. Luciano Mangiafico tells his story.

From the Archives: Lizard on a Rock

May 1st, 2016
From the Archives: Lizard on a Rock

He survived years of dangerous exile, won his crown on the battlefield, and founded one of the most famous dynasties in human history – and yet we still haven’t embraced Henry VII. A spirited biography seeks to change that.

Book Review: The Habsburg Empire: A New History

April 25th, 2016
the habsburg empire

A new history takes a thought-provokingly centralist look at the oft-chronicled Habsburg Empire

Book Review: The President’s Book of Secrets

April 21st, 2016
president’s book of secrets

A fascinating new book presents readers with a bounty of stories surrounding the daily intelligence-services briefing given to US Presidents

Book Review: History and Presence

April 20th, 2016
history and presence

An invigorating new study of the real presence of the divine in the mundane workings of organized religion

Book Review: The Empire That Would Not Die

April 15th, 2016
empire that woudln’t die

Abandoned by the West and battered by the Islamic caliphate, the eastern Roman Empire shrank and withdrew but did not fall – a new history asks why

Book Review: The Fever of 1721

April 13th, 2016
the fever

When smallpox struck the city of Boston in 1721, battle lines were drawn over how to deal with it – and strange alliances formed

Book Review: Tales from the Long Twelfth Century

April 11th, 2016
tales from the long 12th

At the center of a lively, personality-driven new book about the twelfth century is the contentious family of King Henry II

On Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah

April 1st, 2016
On Edwin O’Connor’s <em>The Last Hurrah</em>

In his essay on a new reprint of Edwin O’Connor’s great and indispensable novel of old-style American ward politics, Jack Beatty introduces readers to the serious comedy of The Last Hurrah.

Same Bloody Rhythm

April 1st, 2016
Same Bloody Rhythm

A new book reminds us that good reporting on the Middle East is more important than ever, and more dangerous.

Against the Beautiful Moment

April 1st, 2016
Against the Beautiful Moment

You can set up a flash mob with Twitter, but you can’t run a government with it; Jodi Dean’s Crowds and Party looks at protests in the age of social media.

From the Archives: No Strange Quirk of Fate

April 1st, 2016
Avengers

Avengers films have grossed nearly $3 billion dollars, and that’s not counting the spinoffs. Lost in all the hype is the rich history of the comic itself; Justin Hickey explores the convergence of pulp and pixels.

Book Review: Everyday Renaissances

March 15th, 2016
everyday renaissances

An eye-opening new history sheds light on the book-lovers and book-collectors of Renaissance Venice

Book Review: The Brazen Age

March 13th, 2016
the brazen age

A boisterous new history of New York City and America in the wake of the Second World War

Book Review: The King’s Bed

March 2nd, 2016
the king’s bed

A lively new book gives readers a mistress-by-mistress recounting of the reign of Charles II

Book Review: Battle of the Atlantic

March 1st, 2016
battle atlantic

Atlantic shipping was the lifeline of Great Britain during the Second World War, and the Nazis knew it just as well as the Allies did. A thrilling new book recounts the sprawling, war-long Battle of the Atlantic

Mirror Writing

March 1st, 2016
Abani

There are two kinds of essayists: explainers and explorers. Which populate the new series from Restless Books about the human face? John Cotter investigates.

A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

March 1st, 2016
A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Jane Mayer’s new book uncovers the overpowering fire-hose of private money now being blasted into the American political system by the robber barons of the new Gilded Age.

Punching Up

March 1st, 2016
Punching Up

Can fiction be overtly political without becoming doctrinaire? A new novel about the Seattle W.T.O. protests succeeds by emphasizing the human complexities involved.

Book Review: Strange Gods

February 17th, 2016
strange gods

Throughout human history, people have found reasons to change their religions – Susan Jacoby’s brilliant new book examines the phenomenon of adopting strange gods

Book Review: Apostle

February 8th, 2016
apostle

An author spends years traveling to the various final resting places of the Apostles – and comes back with an unsettlingly insightful new look at the early history of Christianity

Book Review: The Annotated Lincoln

February 4th, 2016
the annotated lincoln

A big, gorgeous new anthology presents a virtual life of Abraham Lincoln as seen through his writings

Book Review: Exit Right

February 3rd, 2016
exit right

A brilliant new book takes an in-depth look at six American cultural figures who took a stand on principle – and then changed their minds

The Lost Boy

February 1st, 2016
The Lost Boy

A new book studies the history of copyright and the life and legacy of Aaron Swartz, one of copyright’s groundbreaking interpreters for the new century.

Imminent Threat

February 1st, 2016
Imminent Threat

A harrowing new study tries to determine why the myth of torture’s effectiveness persists despite all the evidence – and despite a long line of permanently maimed victims. Greg Waldmann reviews.

Dream the Possible Dream

February 1st, 2016
Dream the Possible Dream

Can realpolitik – the doctrine of intimidation over ideology, force over ideals – actually be a good thing? Matt Ray reviews John Bew’s new study.

Book Review: Groundless

January 20th, 2016
groundless

Rumors and dark stories flew along the rutted dirt roads of colonial America, bearing tales that had virtually no basis in reality. A new book uses rumor to understand the rumormongers.

Book Review: The Butcher’s Trail

January 16th, 2016
the butcher’s trail

In the wake of the strife and collapse of Slobodan Mlosevic’s Yugoslavia, a large group of war criminals had to be hunted down and delivered for trial. A riveting new book tells the story.

Book Review: Justifying Genocide

January 15th, 2016
justifying genocide

A powerful new book looks at the ideological connections between the Armenian Genocide and the Nazi death-camps that followed twenty years later

Book Review: George Washington’s Journey

January 12th, 2016
george washington’s journey

In his first term as president, George Washington packed up and went on long, rattling tours of the new United States, to see the people and let them see him. A new book follows along.

Book Review: Beyond Greek

January 8th, 2016
beyond greek

A provocative new book re-examines the startling power and, yes, originality of Roman literature

Immanitas

January 1st, 2016
Immanitas

The only reverse-canonization ever performed was by Pius II in 1462, against his hated enemy Sigismondo Malatesta. A new book tells the fascinating story of this “precursor of the Antichrist.”

Romantics without Rebellion

January 1st, 2016
Romantics without Rebellion

In the 1930s, a handful of clubbable Christian scribblers got together for tea and conversation and produced both The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. What on earth went on there?

Gallantry Once a Week: Boswell’s Grand Tour

January 1st, 2016
Gallantry Once a Week: Boswell’s Grand Tour

Before he was a master biographer, James Boswell was a best-selling author of travel writing. Luciano Mangiafico explores his scandalous life in Italy.

Book Review: “Forward, My Brave Boys!”

December 20th, 2015
james rains

A richly-detailed new history traces one Confederate volunteer infantry through the course of the Civil War

Book Review: The Day the Renaissance Was Saved

December 17th, 2015
the day the renaissance was saved

According to one historian, the battle commemorated in a lost painting by Leonardo Da Vinci was the little-known birth-moment of the Renaissance

Book Review: The Iran-Iraq War

December 2nd, 2015
the iran-iraq war

The brutal 1980s war between Iran and Iraq gets a definitive new history

Me Am Your Smallest Fan

December 1st, 2015
Me Am Your Smallest Fan

Long, long before Superman appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, human folklore was rife with super-beings. A new book takes a look at the more-than-human.

In Defense of Makeup

December 1st, 2015
In Defense of Makeup

Lisa Eldridge, in her new book Face Paint, traces the long and surprisingly volatile history of makeup. Jane Shmidt reviews.

‘Tis the Season

December 1st, 2015
‘Tis the Season

Years after the “New Atheism” heyday, a new book by an old hand takes up the atheist cause with renewed urgency.

The Cultural Regressives

December 1st, 2015
The Cultural Regressives

In the summer of 2014, the so-called “Gamergate” controversy convulsed the world of online video gaming, raising issues of sexism and political correctness that still rage today. Phillip Lobo tries to look at the big picture.

If Only Historians Could Write Like Him Now!” The Art and Legacy of Edward Gibbon

December 1st, 2015
If Only Historians Could Write Like Him Now!” The Art and Legacy of Edward Gibbon

“Always scribble, scribble, scribble!” the King joked to the historian, and we remember it still; Luciano Mangiafico looks at the remarkable life of Edward Gibbon.

Book Review: Battling the Gods

November 19th, 2015
battling the gods

The open, even evangelical atheism of the 21st century might be new, but as a sparkling-good new book demonstrates, atheism itself is as old as belief

Book Review: The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer

November 14th, 2015
Book Review: The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer

A penetrating – and bitterly timely – book about the 2011 killing rampage of Anders Behring Breivik

Book Review: The English and Their History

November 10th, 2015
the english and their history

A huge – and hugely enjoyable – new book details the long history of the English people

Book Review: London Fog

November 9th, 2015
Book Review: London Fog

For centuries, “pea-soup” fog was synonymous with the city of London; a lively new book tells its story.

Book Review: City on a Grid

November 6th, 2015
city on a grid

The in-depth story of how it came to be that the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down – the grid system of Manhattan!

Book Review: The Work of the Dead

November 2nd, 2015
the work of the dead

A fascinating new history details the changing job description of the dead-and-buried over the centuries

Generals in Dark and Snow

November 1st, 2015
Generals in Dark and Snow

Late in 1944, the defeated Nazis staked everything on one last throw of the dice, a massive assault on the Allied forces in Belgium. Antony Beevor’s latest book tells the famous story of the Battle of the Bulge.

The Broken Clock

November 1st, 2015
The Broken Clock

Controversial former Vice President Dick Cheney and his journalist daughter Liz have written a book claiming that the exceptional nature of American power is being sullied and squandered by the current occupant of the White House. Greg Waldmann reviews Exceptional.

No Laughing Matter

November 1st, 2015
No Laughing Matter

In Timur Vermes’s bestselling novel, newly translated from the German, it’s 2011, the Führer is back, and he’s not happy at how the world has changed. Is it OK to find that funny?

Book Review: Magna Carta

October 24th, 2015
magna carta

A slim and intensely good new history of King John and the creation of the Great Charter

Book Review: Part of Our Lives

October 21st, 2015
part of our lives

A wonderful new book details the raucous past – and the complicated, vibrant present – of the public library in the United States

Book Review: After Hitler

October 18th, 2015
after hitler

A forensic and often quite moving new history of the last, desperate days of the Third Reich

Book Review: The German War

October 18th, 2015
the german war

A new book brings to life the experiences of ordinary Germans during the Second World War

Book Review: The Rise of Germany

October 16th, 2015
the rise of germany

An ambitious new work of history charts the rise to victory of Nazi Germany – and deflates a few treasured myths along the way

Book Review: The Year of Lear

October 11th, 2015
the year of lear

A new book looks at one tumultuous year in the life of William Shakespeare

Ecology of the Imagination

October 1st, 2015
Ecology of the Imagination

For over sixty years, the story of humanity’s weird fascination with UFOs has been unfolding across nations and societies. A new book goes beyond easy mockery to ask some, er, probing questions.

Keeping Up With the Romans – Hits and Myths

October 1st, 2015
Keeping Up With the Romans – Hits and Myths

Two thousand years ago, the Roman historian Suetonius wrote about the lives and loves of the founding rulers of the Roman Empire. Historian Tom Holland takes up the familiar story in his new book Dynasty.

Book Review: Islam and the Future of Tolerance

September 29th, 2015
islam harris

A polite conversation by two intellectuals about an explosive subject: the rise of militant Islamic groups throughout the world, and the world’s response

Book Review: Washington

September 27th, 2015
washington

The venerable sub-genre of the Washington, DC history gets a substantial new update

Book Review: Gallipoli

September 23rd, 2015
gallipoli

The new entry in Oxford University Press’ “Great Battles” series focuses on the long and potent afterlife of the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War

Book Review: Killing the Messenger

September 20th, 2015
killing the messenger

In his new book, David Brock, foremost champion of the Clintons, comes to the defense of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Book Review: A Strange Business

September 18th, 2015
a strange business

James Hamilton’s fascinating new book looks behind the glorious paintings of the Victorian era at the men who designed the frames, discovered the paint pigments, and heated the galleries

Book Review: India at War

September 15th, 2015
india at war

When the Second World War erupted, the British Empire expected all its client states to do their duty for the Crown; but in India, as a sharp new book details, that duty was deeply complicated

Book Review: The Conquering Tide

September 14th, 2015
the conquering tide

The fierce, epic height of WWII’s Pacific War is the subject of Ian Toll’s gripping new volume

Book Review: A Little History of the United States

September 13th, 2015
little history of us

The latest volume in Yale University Press’s series of short histories is a quick yet authoritative overview of United States history

Book Review: Bosworth 1485

September 13th, 2015
bosworth dan jones

A taut new history of Richard III and the battle in which he lost everything – and the new Tudor dynasty gained everything

Book Review: The Spirit of ’74

September 12th, 2015
spirit of 74

Long before the famous date of the Declaration, Boston was breaking the King’s Peace and warning other towns and colonies to do likewise – a lively new book tells the story

Book Review: Afghan Modern

September 12th, 2015
afghan modern cover

A Stanford history professor attempts to make a positive case for one of the most benighted countries on the planet

Book Review: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

September 9th, 2015
ministry cover

They slit throats; the bombed churches; they were none too mentally stable – and these were the GOOD guys

Book Review: Renishaw Hall

September 7th, 2015
ren

The great home of generations of the Sitwell family, Renishaw Hall, is the subject of Desmond Seward’s latest book

Book Review: Word by Word

September 7th, 2015
word by word

A new book assembles and studies the scattered writings of American slaves

Book Review: Black Earth

September 6th, 2015
black earth

A harrowing and contentious new assessment of the Nazi war on the Jews of Europe.

“I am eager to play chess – I have mastered nine skills”

September 1st, 2015
“I am eager to play chess – I have mastered nine skills”

At the beginning of the 19th century, a small trove of elaboratedly carved chess pieces was uncovered on a remote beach – a lively new book traces the history and strange charisma of the Lewis chessmen.

Boy, Interrupted

September 1st, 2015
Boy, Interrupted

For the protagonist of Jim Shepard’s heartbreaking novel The Book of Aron it is terrible to be a poor Jew in anti-Semitic prewar Poland – but it is hardest of all to be a child, at the mercy of everyone else.

Book Review: Agents of Empire

August 30th, 2015
agents of empire

In the continents-spanning 16th-century clash between Venice and the Ottoman Empire, a crucial role was played by Albania – and by two families at the heart of events

Book Review: Death in Florence

August 29th, 2015
death in florence

At the end of the 14th century, Lorenzo de’ Medici and the friar Savonarola began a series of clashes in palace and pulpit that would end up altering the course of the city’s history. A lively new book tells the story.

Classics Reissued: Salvaged Pages

August 25th, 2015
salvaged pages

A new edition of this collection of Holocaust diaries by young people captures the voices and the worries of the Nazis’ most innocent victims

Book Review: The End of Tsarist Russia

August 19th, 2015
the end of tsarist russia

A powerful new book by one of our best historians examines from new sources the torturous path Russia took to the First World War

Book Review: Under Another Sky

August 14th, 2015
under another sky

Part history, part travel guide, part novel – a wonderful new book takes readers on a tour of Roman Britain

Book Review: The President and the Apprentice

August 7th, 2015
9780300181050

The settled opinion of historians has always been that President Eisenhower personally hated his vice president, Richard Nixon; a vigorous, unmissable new book tries to set that record straight

Book Review: Hirohito’s War

August 6th, 2015
hirohito’s war

A massive new history details the war in the Pacific Theater during WWII

Book Review: The Real Lives of Roman Britain

August 3rd, 2015
the real lives of roman britain

Archeological research has uncovered more than ever about the ordinary men and women who lived in Britain during the centuries of Roman occupation. A lively new book assesses what we know

None of the Above

August 1st, 2015
None of the Above

Political scientist Ian Bremmer’s new book looks at the changing nature of American power in the 21st century, but just how many false premises does the book employ?

Painful to Nice Feelings

August 1st, 2015
Painful to Nice Feelings

He sailed around Cape Horn and wrote a classic about it, and he fought for the downtrodden in Boston courts for thirty years – he was Richard Henry Dana, Jr., and he’s the subject of a thought-provoking new biography.

Book Review: The Eagle in Splendour

July 30th, 2015
9781784531751.ashx

“How a Court LOOKS,” remarked a courtier to one of England’s more successful modern-day monarchs, “is at least as important as how a Court WORKS.” A re-issued study from Philip Mansel looks at form and function in the court of Napoleon Bonaparte

Book Review: For God and Kaiser

July 28th, 2015
for god and kaiser

“Austria,” quipped Talleyrand, “has the tiresome habit of always being beaten” – but Richard Bassett’s vigorous new history of the Imperial Austrian Army begs to differ!

Book Review: Braddock’s Defeat

July 27th, 2015
braddock’s defeat cover

A French army and a British army stumble upon each other in the wilderness of the New World, and their conflict changes the nature of the world’s biggest war

Book Review: Rome’s Revolution

July 27th, 2015
rome’s revolution

The epic change in ancient Rome from a Republic to an Empire hinged on one man: Julius Caesar. A new history tells the familiar story.

Book Review: The Two-State Delusion

July 27th, 2015
two-state delusion cover

A veteran state conflict analyst looks at the mother of such conflicts: the long strife between Israel and Palestine

Book Review: Sicily

July 23rd, 2015
sicily

Veteran historian John Julius Norwich attempts to cram over 800 years of Sicilian history into 300 pages – and because he’s John Julius Norwich, he very nearly succeeds

Book Review: Last to Die

July 11th, 2015
last to die

Military historian Stephen Harding tells the poignant story of the last soldier killed in World War II

Book Review: The American Revolution

July 4th, 2015
loa american revolution

Just in time for America’s Independence Day, the Library of America presents its newest production: a two-volume collection of some of the pamphlets that so inflamed the colonial population in the decade leading up to the Revolution

Book Review: The Duke’s Assassin

July 1st, 2015
Dall’Aglio Jkt 9780300189780.indd

A brutal assassination in 1537 changed the course of Florentine history, and eleven years later, the assassin was himself murdered. Case closed? A fascinating new book thinks not!

The Book and the Boy

July 1st, 2015
The Book and the Boy

A thousand years ago, a refined lady at the Japanese Court wrote the first and one of the greatest novels of all time, The Tale of Genji; Dennis Washburn does the latest translation of this immense work, with stunning results.

Poor People are Like Oysters: The Life of Giovanni Verga

July 1st, 2015
Poor People are Like Oysters: The Life of Giovanni Verga

Most people today know him only from the libretto of one short opera, but in his own day, he was a famous poet, playwright, and scholar – and a compulsive litigant. Luciano Mangiafico looks at the life of Giovanni Verga.

Book Review: How Britain Saved the West

June 19th, 2015
when britain saved the west

For a key interval in 1940, Britain stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany at its peak – and that familiar story of determination and ultimate victory is the subject of Robin Prior’s new book

Book Review: Nixon’s Nuclear Specter

June 15th, 2015
nixon’s nuclear specter cover

At the height of the Vietnam War, President Nixon engaged in an incredibly risky game of nuclear brinksmanship – a richly-researched new book tells the story

Book Review: Yanks in the RAF

June 13th, 2015
yanks in the raf cover

While America was still technically neutral in Great Britain’s fight against Germany, a handful of American flyers traveled to England and volunteered to fly in the RAF – a fascinating new book tells their story

The Management of Savagery

June 1st, 2015
The Management of Savagery

Many new books – some excellent, some awful – are now seeking to explain the terrorist group ISIS, but the group’s own origins dynamics are dauntingly complex. Greg Waldmann tries to make sense of it all.

No Doubters in the Shipyards

June 1st, 2015
No Doubters in the Shipyards

Celebrated biographer H. W. Brands has written the first full-dress of Ronald Reagan since the former president’s death in 2004 – but does Reagan elude him, as he has so many biographers? Steve Donoghue reviews.

Book Review: First Over There

May 26th, 2015
first over there cover

On a chilly day in late May, 1918, American troops went into battle in the World War I for the first time – a gripping new history tells the story

In Paperback: Vesuvius

May 24th, 2015
vesuvius cover

Now in paperback: a fascinating history of mankind’s interactions with the most famous volcano in the world

Classics Reissued: Gallipoli

May 24th, 2015
gallipoli cover

The mad debacle of the Dardanelles campaign is now 100 years in the past, and to mark the anniversary, a classic account is reprinted

Book Review: The Great War of Our Time

May 24th, 2015
the great war for our time cover

A former deputy director of the CIA reflects on his time on the front lines in this frustrating memoir

Book Review: The Unraveling

May 24th, 2015
the unraveling cover

A former key player in the Coalition’s conquest and administration of Iraq reflects on her time there

Book Review: Fracture

May 17th, 2015
fracture cover

In the wake of the First World War, unimaginable energies were unleashed upon the societies of the Western world. A fascinating new book attempts to assess the results.

Book Review: Whirlwind

May 16th, 2015
whirlwind cover

John Ferling, great historian of 18th century America, here tells the story of the American Revolution itself, in typically riveting fashion

Book Review: Cursed Victory

May 11th, 2015
cursed victory cover

A noted Israeli scholar and ‘refusnik’ writes a reserved and thorough history of the occupied territories

Book Review: The Constitution – An Introduction

May 4th, 2015
constitution cover

The US Constitution – the oldest in the world – gets a comprehensive new biography

‘I’m the Top Goddess – How Could I Fail to Make Trouble?’

May 1st, 2015
‘I’m the Top Goddess – How Could I Fail to Make Trouble?’

Renowned classicist and historian Peter Green has at last produced a translation of the Iliad – and it comes with its own Greek Chorus. Steve Donoghue investigates.

Hectic Hyperborea

May 1st, 2015
Hectic Hyperborea

Michael Pye’s new book provides a rich history of the North Sea in human culture – and pokes holes in some crass nationalist myth-making along the way. Matt Ray reviews The Edge of the World.

Book Review: Infamy

April 28th, 2015
ReevesBook

In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States summarily imprisoned thousands of its Japanese citizens for the duration of the war. Richard Reeves’ passionate new book tells the story

Book Review: In These Times

April 27th, 2015
in these times cover

Jenny Uglow’s new book goes into lively detail about how ordinary people in Britain experienced the cataclysmic events of the wars of the Napoleonic era

Book Review: The Last Days of George Armstrong Custer

April 26th, 2015
last days cover

Author Thom Hatch promises mind-blowing new revelations in his book on the Battle of Little Bighorn. And in other news, Rutherford B. Hayes is rumored to be contemplating a run for president.

Book Review: The Intimate Bond

April 23rd, 2015
the intimate bond cover

An extremely winning new book explores the enormous ways eight particular animal kinds have altered the course of human life on Earth

Book Review: Dead Wake

April 22nd, 2015
DeadWaketoChris.indd

One hundred years ago, a German U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania, with grievous loss of civilian life. The anniversary is observed by one of our best popular historians

Book Review: Princes at War

April 22nd, 2015
princes at war cover

A chatty, vivacious new book tracks the four sons of the Royal House of Windsor during the years of World War Two

Book Review: Hell from the Heavens

April 18th, 2015
hell from the heavens

In April of 1945, the destroyer USS Laffey was bombarded by wave after wave of kamikaze fighters – and yet survived. A gripping new book tells the story of a ship that refused to die

Book Review: “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”

April 16th, 2015
armenian genocide suny cover

In time for the hundred-year anniversary of the Ottoman killing of over a million Armenians, a gripping new history tells the whole story of the tragedy

Book Review: Their Last Full Measure

April 14th, 2015
their last full measure cover

The tense and frantic final months of the American Civil War forms the backdrop for Joseph Wheelan’s lively new book

Book Review: KL

April 11th, 2015
kl cover

The sprawling system of concentration camps established by the Nazis gets its first comprehensive history

Book Review: Madness in Civilization

April 9th, 2015
madness in civilization cover

A fantastic, important new study traces the history of insanity in human history

Book Review: France 1940

April 8th, 2015
france 1940 cover

The military collapse of France in 1940 has been a punch line and byword for decades, but a provocative new book argues that the traditional view is too simple

Protean Things

April 8th, 2015
Protean Things

Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Tudor novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, have made their way to the stage on the expert handling of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Zach Rabiroff had front row center.

Book Review: One of Us

April 7th, 2015
one of us cover

In 2011, a man detonated a bomb in Oslo and then shot dozens of people on a nearby island before surrendering to police. A vivid new book tells the whole story of the victims – and the killer

Book Review: Hitler’s Shadow Empire

April 5th, 2015
hitler’s shadow empire cover

In 1936 Nazi Germany poured money and manpower into backing General Franco in the Spanish Civil War; a new history powerfully re-interprets that fraught relationship

Book Review: Ministers at War

April 4th, 2015
ministers at war cover

A new book tells the story of the War Cabinet Winston Churchill assembled to fight the Second World War

Book Review: Secret Warriors

April 3rd, 2015
Scan 46

Beyond the battles and trenches of the First World War, a dozen less glamorous but no less vital fights were being waged – in laboratories and darkrooms and publishing offices. A vibrant new book tells the story of the other World War I

Book Review: King John and the Road to Magna Carta

April 2nd, 2015
king john uk cover

800 years ago, King John “Lackland” sealed Magna Carta and unwittingly laid the foundation for some of Western law; a new book takes a fresh look at this much-maligned figure

Book Review: The Baltic

April 1st, 2015
the baltic cover

For more than a thousand years, the sprawling area of the Baltic has played host to history, art, and fitful commerce – a new history tells the story.

“Il n’y a pas d’Israël pour moi”

April 1st, 2015
“Il n’y a pas d’Israël pour moi”

In Michel Houellebecq’s uncannily timely new novel, the triumph of an Islamist government relieves the dreary banality that defines the secular France of the 21st century.

Mary Anne and the Adventurer

April 1st, 2015
Mary Anne and the Adventurer

Traditional cynicism has always maintained that Benjamin Disraeli married Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis primarily for her money, but a new book argues that the real picture was a good deal more complex – and interesting – than that.

Press Enter

April 1st, 2015
Press Enter

Author Jacob Silverman contends in his new book that the intrusions of social media into our private lives has reached sometimes intolerable extents. But what does he mean by “intolerable”? And who is he counting as “our”?

Members in Good Standing

April 1st, 2015
Members in Good Standing

Two books by Mark Leibovitch create a picture of Beltway wheelings and dealings that’s almost unbearably incestuous, with virtually no lines drawn between elected officials and profiteering lobbyists. Greg Waldmann plumbs the depths and reports back.

Unmaking L’empereur

April 1st, 2015
Unmaking <em>L’empereur</em>

The 2nd Light Battalion King’s Division played a pivotal role at the Battle of Waterloo, as a slim new history by Brendan Simms demonstrates. Matt Ray reviews the book in his Open Letters debut.

Book Review: American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan

March 31st, 2015
uncommon liberalism cover

American senator, author, and statesman Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s complex and constantly-evolving political philosophy is the subject of a pointed new book

Book Review: Washington’s Circle

March 30th, 2015
washington’s circle cover

A fantastic new book tells the story of President Washington and the extraordinary team he assembled to form the new nation’s first administration

Book Review: Ravensbruck

March 28th, 2015
ravensbruck cover

In 1939 the Nazis established their only concentration camp specifically for women; a comprehensive new book tells the history of Ravensbruck

Book Review: The Big Trial

March 26th, 2015
the big trial cover

From Lizzie Borden to O. J. Simpson, big public show-trials have fascinated the American people. In his new book, renowned legal historian Lawrence Friedman tries to dissect why that is.

Book Review: Akhenaten & The Origins of Monotheism

March 16th, 2015
akhenaten & the origins of monotheism

The rebel pharaoh who instituted a radical new monotheism gets a highly-detailed and revisionist investigation

Book Review: The Fall of the Ottomans

March 4th, 2015
fall of the ottomans uscover

The Ottoman Empire joined the fighting of the First World War deeply misunderstood by both sides; a charismatic new book seeks to clarify the story of that odd meeting of East and West

The Art of Socialist America

March 1st, 2015
The Art of Socialist America

The Works Progress Administration did more than set thousand of Americans to building bridges and roads in the 1930s; it also fostered art, as an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Art Gallery lavishly illustrates.

Book Review: Killers of the King

February 27th, 2015
killers of the king cover

Under the direction of Oliver Cromwell, dozens of men deliberated to execute the captive King Charles I, and when Charles II came to power a decade later, those men were suddenly in the gravest danger. A fascinating new book tells their stories.

Book Review: The Reagan Era

February 25th, 2015
the reagan era cover

A new book takes an intense look at the presidency of Ronald Reagan

Book Review: American Reckoning

February 22nd, 2015
Book Review: American Reckoning

A harrowing new book looks at the many spaces the Vietnam Was has occupied in the American mental landscape

Book Review: Cold War Modernists

February 19th, 2015
9780231162302

The clashes of the Cold War weren’t just matters of missiles and border guards; they also enlisted honey-voiced broadcasters, drunken novelists, and bookish magazine editors, as a fascinating new book makes clear

Book Review: The Summit – Bretton Woods, 1944

February 17th, 2015
the summit cover

In 1944 a contentious group of delegates gathered in New Hampshire in order to lay out a blueprint for the postwar world economy; a great new history tells the story of Bretton Woods

Book Review: The Strategist

February 14th, 2015
the strategist cover

Two-time National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft kept a low profile (and a negligible paper trail) throughout a lifetime in Washington power-dealing; a compelling new book profiles the ultimate Oval Office insider

Book Review: Gods, Guns, Grits, and Gravy

February 7th, 2015
gods guns cover

Former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee offers a plea for understanding the ‘flyover states’ where, he claims, real people lead real lives

Book Review: Thieves’ Road

February 6th, 2015
thieves road cover

Two years before he gained fame in the most painful way imaginable at the Battle of Little Bighorn, George Armstrong Custer led a large expedition into the Black Hills sacred to the Sioux – in search of gold

Book Review: The Dogs Are Eating Them Now

February 3rd, 2015
the dogs are eating them now cover

One of the most experienced reporters to cover the war in Afghanistan writes up his experiences

Book Review: Phantom Terror

February 2nd, 2015
phantom terror cover

In his new book, historian Adam Zamoyski paints a picture of a Europe convulsed with fear of upheavals like the French Revolution and the tyranny of Bonaparte – and willing to do anything to prevent them

Book Review: A Superpower Transformed

February 1st, 2015
superpower transformed cover

A paradigm-shifting new book looks at the turbulent decade of the 1970s in United States politics and the re-shaping of the world

Second Glance: For Eternity

February 1st, 2015
Second Glance: For Eternity

John Bunyan’s book-length religious allegory Pilgrim’s Progress strikes many of today’s readers as hopelessly hokey and tone-deaf – but it still has abundant power to change lives, as one passionate reader attests.

These Pictures are Themselves Little Souls

February 1st, 2015
These Pictures are Themselves Little Souls

A new reprint line from the New York Review of Books concentrates on literature from – and on – China’s long literary history, and the first three volumes offer the strange, the familiar, and the beautiful.

The Buildup of Erasure

February 1st, 2015
The Buildup of Erasure

Claudia Rankine articulates the truths of the black experience so poignantly in her celebrated collection Citizen by putting them, paradoxically, both plainly and artfully.

Faith-Based Initiative

February 1st, 2015
Barack_Obama_and_John_Boehner_enjoying_Saint_Patrick’s_Day_2014

In his new book City of Rivals, James Grumet takes a gloomy close-up look at America’s deeply dysfunctional Congress and offers some solutions. But are those solutions dysfunctional too?

Book Review: One Nation, Under Gods

January 30th, 2015
one nation cover

From the Puritans and their city on a hill to the Mormons to modern-day charlatans, the story of the United States is the story of competing faiths; a lively new book looks at that complicated tapestry

Book Review: Like A Bomb Going Off

January 27th, 2015
like a bomb going off cover

Revolutionary Russian choreographer Leonid Yakobson fought prejudice, rivals, and the omnipresent Soviet censors to pursue his art, as a magnificent new book narrates

Book Review: American Passage

January 23rd, 2015
american passage cover

For the earliest New England settlers, there were no roads through the wilderness – only the pathways used by suspicious and distrustful natives. And yet, the desire to share news was as strong as ever – a fascinating new book looks at the ways gossip travels in the woods.

Book Review: The Middle Ages

January 18th, 2015
the middle ages cover

A nimble and tremendously engaging history of the Middle Ages finally gets translated into English

What Jona Knew

January 1st, 2015
What Jona Knew

It’s comforting to believe there are lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, or to treat it as a story about the triumph of the human spirit. Jona Oberski’s Childhood rightly refuses us these consolations.

Plying the Darkness

January 1st, 2015
Plying the Darkness

Brian Turner’s complex, lyrical meditations on his tour of duty in Iraq make us ache with the privilege that is a war memoir.

Independence Day

January 1st, 2015
Independence Day

Two recent votes on independence remind us that globalization has not put an end to nationalism. A new book on the 1995 Quebec referendum highlights just how complicated a people’s “yes” or “no” votes really are.

Harm Him, Harm Me

January 1st, 2015
Harm Him, Harm Me

Historical novelist Andrew Levkoff stuffs the last installment of his “Bow of Heaven” trilogy with battles, love, loyalty betrayed, crucifixion, cross-purposes, loyalty regained, and deep reflections on what it all means.

Enlisted Again

January 1st, 2015
Enlisted Again

Once he’d led the Continental Army to victory, General George Washington retired to his Mount Vernon home – but the newborn country wasn’t done with him yet. A new book looks at First Citizen Washington.

Pointez, Pointez!

December 1st, 2014
Pointez, Pointez!

Hugely talented biographer Andrew Roberts has written a big biography of Napoleon Bonaparte – but when it comes to such a well-known figure, are readers in danger of fatigue de bataille?

Unwise Counsel

December 1st, 2014
Unwise Counsel

Leon Panetta, old Washington fixture and former member of the Obama administration, criticizes the president in his new memoir. But does he have anything to say?

#NotAllNazis

December 1st, 2014
#NotAllNazis

What would you do if your artistic survival suddenly depended on the whims of a brutal dictatorship? How far would you compromise? How much would you risk? A new book studies artists in the Third Reich.

Not What Isaiah Had in Mind

December 1st, 2014
Not What Isaiah Had in Mind

Can a book about the Jewish Diaspora add anything useful on the topic if it’s uninterested in Jewish history and slightly dodgy about the Diaspora? Jordan MaGill gives Alan Wolfe’s At Home in Exile a close reading.

“He hit the Constitution much as the Lord hit chaos…”

December 1st, 2014
“He hit the Constitution much as the Lord hit chaos…”

There were layers and layers to John Marshall, one of America’s first and in many ways most important Chief Justices of the Supreme Court – but just how deep does the latest biography go?

“Cambridge should come to us”

December 1st, 2014
“Cambridge should come to us”

“Our belief in Literature has collapsed” Lars Iyer once wrote, but his new novel Wittgenstein Jr, the story of a passionate philosophy professor and his apathetic students, bristles with literary faith.

Thinking in Common

November 1st, 2014
Thinking in Common

The great critic and essayist Irving Howe laid claim to a great many decayed traditions – and then elevated them all to high art. A new collection of his prose presents some of his gems.

Title Menu: A list of great political books that doesn’t include What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer

November 1st, 2014
Title Menu: A list of great political books that doesn’t include <em>What It Takes</em> by Richard Ben Cramer

Just in time for the November midterm elections, we do what doubters said couldn’t be done: we present you with a list of ten great political books that doesn’t include Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes.

The Book of Abraham

November 1st, 2014
The Book of Abraham

Veteran historian Brookhiser takes a look at the formative influences on Abraham Lincoln – not so much his own father as the Founding Fathers.

Grosz Anatomy

October 1st, 2014
Grosz Anatomy

In his latest collection of essays, Theater of Cruelty, Ian Buruma launches a series of expert investigations into the springs of cruelty and the perils of victomhood.

Coalition of the Chilling

October 1st, 2014
Coalition of the Chilling

A British historian’s richly-sourced accounting of Molotov-Ribbentrop offers fresh insights into this Nazi-Soviet pact of “non-aggression.”

Hidden in Plain Sight

October 1st, 2014
Hidden in Plain Sight

A new book blames Pakistan for the carnage in Afghanistan. But what does “Pakistan” really mean when its government is so fraught with dissension?

WAKE UUUUP!

October 1st, 2014
WAKE UUUUP!

What does the summer of 1989, when Do the Right Thing hit theaters, have to say to the summer of Ferguson, and police militarization, and race relations today?

Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

September 1st, 2014
Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

The critical consensus around reclusive Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is enough to make you suspect collusion – but to what end? and at what cost? Rohan Maitzen reviews the reviewers.

The Lion’s Den

September 1st, 2014
The Lion’s Den

We think of the Middle East as a place of hopeless deadlocks – but once upon a time, an Egyptian president, an Israeli prime minister, and a U.S. president worked for two weeks to hammer out a plan for peace. Lawrence Wright takes readers to Camp David at a turning point in history.

Words Plucked from Our Tongues

September 1st, 2014
Words Plucked from Our Tongues

Can Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda heal Canada’s colonial relationship with its First Nations? Why should we expect literature to succeed where our leaders have failed?

The Done Thing

September 1st, 2014
The Done Thing

England had been at war with France almost continuously since the Norman Conquest, but in the Hundred Years War, the conflict became especially heightened – and transformative. A new history tells the story as a rattling good yarn.

High and Outside

September 1st, 2014
High and Outside

Uncertain Justice, by Lawrence Tribe and Joshua Matz, suggests that personality plays a greater role than ideology in today’s Supreme Court. David Culberg assesses the arguments.

The Grey Zone

August 1st, 2014
The Grey Zone

Gertrude van Tijn helped more than 20,000 Jews escape occupied Holland. What does it mean that, in saving their lives, she had to collaborate with Nazis?

Socrates Offside

August 1st, 2014
Socrates Offside

What place do deep questions about the meaning of life have in our technological age? Is philosophy more important than ever?

Troubled Sheep

August 1st, 2014
Troubled Sheep

William Deresiewicz has written-up some admonitions for gifted children of privilege: beware of status-mongering, ignorance of other classes, greed. But is his book itself just a wee bit … privileged?

Twenty Feet Tall!

August 1st, 2014
Twenty Feet Tall!

The third voume of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland trilogy is sure to fly off the shelves, but those flying copies will be light to the tune of a few needed footnotes, omissions our managing editor finds, to say the least, troubling.

It Wasn’t Palimpsestuous

July 1st, 2014
It Wasn’t Palimpsestuous

The collectors of rare 78 rpm records are nearly as singular and remarkable as the vinyl they seek out. A new book travels to flea markets and music fairs to discover the secrets of these American obsessives.

Pashtunwali

July 1st, 2014
Pashtunwali

Of all the borders in the world, the Durand line is perhaps the most dangerous. A new book seeks to explain the Taliban, who plague the peoples on both sides of it.

The Reign of Saturn

July 1st, 2014
The Reign of Saturn

Babe Ruth, Mayor Walker, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Parker – New York City in the Jazz Age was a bristling landscape of giants, most of them from out of town. A vast and enthralling new history tells the stories of the people who made the Big Apple.

2nd Amendment Fundamentalists

July 1st, 2014
2nd Amendment Fundamentalists

“You can throw out every damn other thing in the Constitution, as long as you don’t touch my guns,” one Southern U.S. Senator famously bellowed, perfectly typifying a certain psychosis. A new book picks fights on history of American gun law.

Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

June 1st, 2014
Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

Thomas Piketty’s great mountain of Gallic macro-economics, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, was the hit of the Western world for one heady season. Then the parade moved on, and we were left, dazed and disheveled, wondering if we’ve been fed un truc de ouf. Our Peer Review attempts to sort out the l’affaire Piketty

Hanging On: Modernity and the Crisis of Suicide

June 1st, 2014
Hanging On: Modernity and the Crisis of Suicide

With suicides on the rise throughout the Western world, a recent study by Jennifer Hecht attempts to both diagnose the frightening trend and evangelize against it. Ivan Kenneally discusses how effective her arguments are likely to be.

Dervishes and Gypsies

June 1st, 2014
Dervishes and Gypsies

Legendary Indian author Saadat Hasan Manto’s choicest short stories – depicting a teeming Bombay that’s both long-vanished and eternal – receive an attractive new paperback edition from Vintage International

Words at the Grave

June 1st, 2014
Words at the Grave

On Marx, the latest chip off the block of Alan Ryan’s 2-volume On Politics, focuses on the founder of Marxism – but Ryan’s a man in a hurry, and the devil is in the details.

The Battle for Justice in Palestine

May 23rd, 2014
Layout 1

A controversial author’s latest and most devastating indictment of Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian citizens and neighbors

Circumspice

May 1st, 2014
Circumspice

Ronald Reagan single-handedly ended the Cold War at Reykjavik in 1985. And if you believe that, his loyal aid Ken Adelman has a book to sell you.

Skilled in the Ways of the Desert

May 1st, 2014
Skilled in the Ways of the Desert

A fascinating new book tells the remarkable stories of five ‘improbable’ women who defied convention to explore the much mythologised landscape of the Middle East.

So Why Write?

May 1st, 2014
So Why Write?

As the world’s supply of writers outpaces the world’s demand for their books, the financial returns for writing have fallen to laughable levels. Then why keep doing it? Paul Griffin explores the problem of writing and money.

Ariel: Shelley in Italy

May 1st, 2014
Ariel: Shelley in Italy

Like so many before him, the celebrated Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley had a tangled and complicated history with Italy, equal parts inspiration and frustration. Luciano Mangiafico tells the story

Sermons from the Ivory Tower

April 1st, 2014
Sermons from the Ivory Tower

A thoughtful exploration of what it means to teach the humanities would be a welcome intervention in the never-ending talk of crisis. Unfortunately, Why Teach? is not that book.

The Word Made Flesh

April 1st, 2014
The Word Made Flesh

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Laylat-al-Qadr

April 1st, 2014
Laylat-al-Qadr

A kaleidoscopic new book explores one of history’s sharpest paradoxes: the Age of Liberty was also the Age of Slavery

“There Is No Enjoyment in This Life”

April 1st, 2014
“There Is No Enjoyment in This Life”

Iraqi lawyer and former exile Zaid al-Ali writes a bleak, sobering account of the state of his homeland in the post-“Mission Accomplished” era – but is there any reason for hope?

Not Just Cutting Ribbons

April 1st, 2014
Not Just Cutting Ribbons

For the past 25 years, the Irish Presidency has been a wonder to behold: a place where passionate eccentrics can embody a complicated country.

Doubleplusungood

April 1st, 2014
Doubleplusungood

Putin’s Soviet predecessors were masters of doublespeak. As Ukraine suffers again, it’s clear that their descendents are now in charge.

Policy Papers: Ukraine and the Left

March 8th, 2014
Relief_of_the_Light_Brigade

Russia and the West, talking past each other, have blundered into conflict over Ukraine. Some commentators on the American left aren’t behaving much differently.

The Danelaw

March 1st, 2014
The Danelaw

In her brilliantly scathing new book, Elaine Scarry charges that US Presidents, in maintaining and augmenting an enormous nuclear arsenal, have broken the social contract and become monarchs in all but name.

Pedestaled in Triumph: Robert Browning in Italy

March 1st, 2014
Pedestaled in Triumph: Robert Browning in Italy

The great and problematic poet Robert Browning drew some of his most powerful poetic inspirations from the lore and lure of Italy; Luciano Mangiafico traces the complicated relationship of the man to his “adopted homeland.”

War, in Panorama

February 1st, 2014
War, in Panorama

How could they do it, those young men who, with every reason to live, walked deliberately into machine-gun fire? Joe Sacco gives us a panoramic view of the horror, the labor, and the losses of WWI.

A Disproportionate Response

February 1st, 2014
Andrew_Sullivan

For years, pioneering blogger Andrew Sullivan was one of the most vocal supporters of the war in Iraq. Time and the war’s wretched progress gradually forced him to change his thinking, however, and a new collection of his writings on the subject charts the disillusioning step-by-step.

February 2014 Issue

February 1st, 2014
February 2014 Issue

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No Picnic

January 1st, 2014
No Picnic

To literary scholar Laura Frost, the great 20th century modernists created readerly pleasures not through familiar comforts but by transforming difficulty and strangeness into something exciting and new. Daniel Green tests the theory.

Dreaming Different Dreams: The Early Russian Dissenters

January 1st, 2014
Dreaming Different Dreams: The Early Russian Dissenters

The Russian dissident writers are largely unknown in the West today, but their work was an inspiration at a time when their compatriots were forbidden to dream different dreams.

Strange Reckoning

January 1st, 2014
Strange Reckoning

She was the daughter, the sister, and the wife of kings in one of England’s most turbulent periods, but Alison Weir’s new biography is the first to make us feel we really know Elizabeth of York.

A Palace and a Prison at Each Hand: Lord Byron in Italy (part 1 of 2)

January 1st, 2014
A Palace and a Prison at Each Hand: Lord Byron in Italy (part 1 of 2)

Byron was mad, bad, and dangerous to know — and eventually his amorous, adventurous spirit led him to Italy.

Desperately Seeking Solzhenitsyn

December 1st, 2013
Desperately Seeking Solzhenitsyn

Every correspondent in Moscow wanted to be the first to find Solzhenitsyn after he won the Nobel Prize in 1970. Michael Johson had that honor – but the great Russian writer wasn’t altogether pleased so see him.

Studio Matto e Disperatissimo: The Life and Writings of Giacomo Leopardi

December 1st, 2013
Studio Matto e Disperatissimo: The Life and Writings of Giacomo Leopardi

He was the greatest Italian poet since Dante, but he was tormented by a strict upbringing, ruinous health, and moods of black pessmism. He was Giacomo Leopardi, and this is his story.

Second Glance: Kapuściński’s Africa

December 1st, 2013
Second Glance: Kapuściński’s Africa

Ryszard Kapuściński has courted controversy for the poetic licenses in his groundbreaking works of history. But it’s those leaps of imagination and sympathy that make his 2001 book on Africa, The Shadow of the Sun, a lasting work of art.

It Was Fun, the Struggle

December 1st, 2013
It Was Fun, the Struggle

The age of Roosevelt and Taft was also the age of Progressive reform – spearheaded by an amazing team of ‘muckraking’ writers the like of which the United States had never seen.

What Does an African Woman Want in America?

November 1st, 2013
What Does an African Woman Want in America?

Chimananda Ngozi Adichie’s expansive novel Americanah centers on a Nigerian woman’s immigration to the United States and eventual return to Nigeria. Orem Ochiel explores what her story says about complex, often traumatic experience of being black and African in the West.

Quick, Off the Mark

November 1st, 2013
Quick, Off the Mark

Campaign books have short shelf-lives – and they deserve them, since most of them have about as much introspection as yesterday’s racing form. Greg Waldmann reads a recent book on the pivotal 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Feeding the Monster

November 1st, 2013
Feeding the Monster

From the agora 2,400 years ago to the present day, the schools of Plato and Aristotle have been locked in combat; a new book sees the struggle in disarmingly simple terms.

JFK in the Senate

October 5th, 2013
jfk in the senate

Before he became one of America’s most famous presidents, John Kennedy was a hot-shot senator and a photogenic winner of the Pulitzer Prize. But did the Senate years help to form the Oval Office years?

An Inglorious Life

October 1st, 2013
An Inglorious Life

Elizabeth Gilbert’s ambitious novel imagines the life of a 19th-century woman botanist, as insightful as Darwin but lost to history. It’s an interesting project, and a worthy one, but does the novel live up to its premise?

The Spirit of ’79

October 1st, 2013
The Spirit of ’79

Two thousand years ago, a bustling seaside town on the Naples coast was engulfed in a sudden, unthinkable catastrophe: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in hot ash and froze it in death for two millennia. Can any museum exhibit capture the irresistible fascination of such a stark human drama?

From the Archives: In the Pocket of Satan

October 1st, 2013
Six Women of Salem

A girl, a widow, a matriarch, a mother, a businesswoman, and a minister’s slave: a new history traces the Salem Witch Trials through the lives of six women who paid dearly for their proximity to one of the most mysterious incidents in American history

Homo Sovieticus

September 1st, 2013
Homo Sovieticus

The USSR’s Book of Tasty and Healthy Food created an impression of bounty and gourmet splendor; Anya von Bremzen’s memoir Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking reveals the Soviet kitchen’s homelier truths

The Empire Strikes Back

September 1st, 2013
The Empire Strikes Back

King and Woolman’s new book Assassination of the Archduke, boasts new sources, very close to Franz Ferdinand and his wife — too close?

From the Archives: The Bureaucrat Who Would be King

September 1st, 2013
From the Archives: The Bureaucrat Who Would be King

President, prime minister, or unnamed Tsar, Vladimir Putin is at once ubiquitous and unknowable; a new book examines the many facets of a new species of autocrat.

Behold the Man

August 1st, 2013
Behold the Man

The meek and peaceful Jesus has become the standard Christian image of the Messiah. Religious scholar Reza Aslan’s controversial new book shatters that image and replaces it with something very different: a violent revolutionary who came not to bring peace but a sword.

In Prague on an Errand

August 1st, 2013
In Prague on an Errand

In Caleb Crain’s debut novel, a young man puts his ordinary life on hold and goes to post-revolution Prague in search of all the usual things young people go searching for in Prague. But, as reviewer Yulia Greyman observes, “false selves are a part of love.”

Vegetable Wonder

August 1st, 2013
Vegetable Wonder

It became entangled with the imperial hopes of a nation and inspired the design of one of the most significant buildings of the 19th century, the Crystal Palace: a new book explores the remarkable story of the Amazonian water lily.

The Heartless World

August 1st, 2013
The Heartless World

‘Everyone knows who won the war,’ runs the refrain of Muriel Rukeyser’s Savage Coast; her newly published 1930 novel about the Spanish Civil War shows what it meant to be a witness to it.

From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012 Continues

July 1st, 2013
From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012 Continues

Our feature continues, as more Open Letters folk share their annual Summer Reading recommendations!

Mé Féin

June 1st, 2013
Mé Féin

Fintan O’Toole is an idealist about Irish republicanism and his books begin a desperately necessary conversation. It’s a bad sign, though, that he can’t quite get past the preliminaries.

Keeping Up With The Tudors: Peace, Plenty, Love, Truth, Terror

June 1st, 2013
Keeping Up With The Tudors: Peace, Plenty, Love, Truth, Terror

A debut novel of alternate history spins out one of the most tantalizing hypotheticals of the past: what if Anne Boleyn had managed to give King Henry VIII a healthy male heir? Some of the answers – and some of the resulting mysteries – may surprise you.

American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Magic II.

June 1st, 2013
American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Magic II.

Bohemian Back Bay was as key to Copley Square as aristocratic Back Bay and black artist models figured not only in Sargent’s work, but in Fred Holland Day’s too.

Failing Gracelessly

May 1st, 2013
Failing Gracelessly

The authors have invaluable sources in America’s ‘deep state’ of surveillance and counter-terrorism, but how much secrecy does security justify? And what happened to moral accountability?

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Magic 1

May 1st, 2013
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Magic 1

A startling triptych illuminates the crossroads of social, racial, and sexual identity in the Copley Square of a century ago, as “The Gods of Copley Square” continues

Approaching Auschwitz

April 1st, 2013
A MAN LOOKS AT PHOTOGRAPHS OF HUNGARIAN JEWS HELD AT THE AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP AT THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM IN LONDON

An incurious and indifferent Jew journeys to Auschwitz to confront the kitsch and the manicured ruins, looking for a sense of connection – and finding it in the most unlikely places

American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Centerpiece 7

April 1st, 2013
American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Centerpiece 7

“The Gods of Copley Square”s spirited multi-part examination of Boston’s Trinity Church (and its indomitable bishop-saint) comes to its conclusion right where it should: at the heart of worship

The Earl of Gallipoli

April 1st, 2013
The Earl of Gallipoli

The typical image of Winston Churchill comes from the dark days of World War II: a fat, old, bald Prime Minister eloquently defying Hitler’s Germany. But before there was a monument there was a man, as an engaging new biography brings to light.

From the Archives: Embossed Coins

April 1st, 2013
From the Archives: Embossed Coins

Elie Wiesel once claimed “a novel about Treblinka is either not a novel or not about Treblinka.” How does Steve Sem-Sandberg grapple with representing the unrepresentable in his sweeping chronicle of the Łódź ghetto, The Emperor of Lies? A review from our archives.

Second Glance: A Virgil or Two

March 1st, 2013
Second Glance: A Virgil or Two

He may not have anything new to tell us today, but as Spencer Lenfield demonstrates, Gilbert Highet’s friendly, engaging pedagogy is still rare enough to keep him relevant.

The Geeks Shall Inherit

March 1st, 2013
The Geeks Shall Inherit

We’ve long endowed campaign consultants with shamanistic powers, but now a new truth is beginning to emerge–the people behind the scenes who can do most to win elections are the data analysts and stat nerds.

“He Might As Well Have Called Me Nancy!” Mark Twain in Italy

March 1st, 2013
“He Might As Well Have Called Me Nancy!” Mark Twain in Italy

After his first visit to Italy, Mark Twain pronounced her “one vast museum of magnificence and misery,” and yet he returned again and again. Luciano Magniafaco chronicles his journeys.

Judaize This

February 1st, 2013
Judaize This

The belief that Jews are the enemy of civilization is one of the West’s most tenacious and systemic ideas. Professor David Nirenberg’s new history offers a vast, seemingly inexhaustible record of a very old, very useful hatred.